Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan will be one of 86 B.C. mayors to attend the inaugural B.C. Mayors’ Caucus scheduled to be held this week (May 16-18) in Penticton.
Structured after several successful models across North America and Europe, including Canada’s Big Cities Mayors, Alberta Mayors’ Caucus, and Atlantic Mayors’ Conference, the caucus will discuss issues important to B.C. communities including negotiating a new collective deal for B.C. communities with the province, building B.C.’s economy and moving forward together to ensure communities can deliver services that taxpayers expect.
Ruttan said it will be a good opportunity to have more detailed discussions with his peers on important issues because of the smaller forum.
“Other opportunities like the Union of British Columbia Municipalities coming up in the fall are really, really busy meetings and there is such a large agenda that sometimes trying to get individual or specialized concerns addressed are not always that easy,” said Ruttan. “One thing I would like to have addressed is downloading on municipalities from the province, the costs associated with that and the lack of opportunity for municipalities to improve their revenue stream to pay for those downloads.”
The caucus is organized by a steering committee of nine B.C. mayors.
Diane Watts, mayor of Surrey, said cities are heading deep into unsustainability despite being the key provider for services and infrastructure.
“The current model is broken and as mayors we need to meet to discuss a collaborative approach to reversing the unsustainable trend that most municipalities are facing,” said Watts in a press release. “Municipalities provide the vast majority of the service in ares such as infrastructure while being given only eight cents out of every tax dollar to do it.”
Lori Ackerman, mayor of Fort St. John, said sharing ideas among civic leaders is key to ensure cities are able to afford services expected by taxpayers.
“I believe we are beyond the point of this caucus just being a good idea,” said Ackerman. “We need to take action to ensure that our ability to continue to provide services expected in our communities and our ability to afford those services do not collide. Peer-to-peer conversations, economies of scale and sharing resources can certainly assist with that and working together will be the beginning.”